Tom Arnold has been appointed as the Government of Ireland’s special envoy on food systems.

Arnold is also a member of the UN Food System Summit’s champions group and has recently been appointed by the Commission to chair a new high level expert group (HLEG).

The group's mandate is to assess the needs, options, impacts and possible approach for an international platform for food systems science (IPFSS).

Arnold has also served as the chair of the Commission’s task force for rural Africa and as the chair of Ireland’s national task team on rural Africa (NTTRA).

NTTRA report

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said Arnold’s extensive knowledge of food and agriculture policy, his understanding of the African context and his unparalleled experience will be invaluable.

Arnold’s role as special envoy will be to communicate Ireland’s position and policy priorities in the run-up to and in the wake of the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021.

Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister Coveney have announced the first step in the implementation of key recommendations from the NTTRA report, with the establishment of the Ireland Africa Rural Development Committee (IARDC).

Food security

The IARDC will be responsible for ensuring the implementation, accountability and resourcing of the NTTRA recommendations.

The IARDC will comprise representatives from both Departments, as well as the relevant State agencies, the private sector, academia and the African community in Ireland.

Minister McConalogue said: “Agriculture is the backbone of rural food security and livelihoods. This report will lead to a more effective Irish contribution to the development of sustainable food systems in Africa, which are critical in reducing hunger and improving nutrition and health.

“Importantly, it will also provide a framework for stronger agri-business linkages between Ireland and Africa, including a focus on supporting female entrepreneurs.”